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Estradasphere: Palace of Mirrors Live (DVD)

Chamber metal? If you've never heard the music of California's Estradasphere, that might be a good term to describe their sonic attack, which is sort of like a cross between Univers Zero, The Mars Volta, King Crimson, and Mr. Bungle. This DVD features a live concert of the band playing their latest release Palace of Mirrors in its entirety, along with other songs from the bands repertoire, with plenty of tour footage mixed in for cinematic effect. Although it's essentially a live concert, with all the film elements added in it comes across more as a musical documentary than anything else. Their stage show sees the band members playing instruments such as guitars, trumpet, accordion, violin, banjo, Shamisen (Japanese stringed instrument) bass, and drums, with a large screen behind them flashing plenty of psychedelic and colorful imagery, making for a powerful sensory experience to say the least. One minute the band lurches into a metallic, Crimson inspired wall of sound, the next they settle into a mix of jazz & classical chamber rock scenario, always keeping the viewer in anticipation of where they are going to go next. Unfortunately, with all the constantly shifting and undulating visuals, you really don't get too up close and personal with the band much as opposed to other concert DVD's that you might see. Overall, this is fun stuff, a real enoyable way to watch a classy avant-garde metal band do their thing.


Track Listing

  1. Palace Intro
  2. The Return
  3. The Debutante
  4. A Corporate Merger
  5. The Terrible BeautyPower of Meow
  6. The Colossal Risk of Elusion
  7. The Unfolding/ Pause of the Threshold
  8. Smuggled Mutation
  9. Those Who Know
  10. The Flower Garden of an Evil Man
  11. Unicorns & Rainbows* (originally by Foxycock)
  12. Palace Outro
  13. Opening Set: Juliet of the Spirits: Faccette Scintillante & Amore Pertutti (Composed by Nino Rota)
  14. Vertigo: Scene d' amour (composed by Bernard Hermann, arranged by Timb Harris and Tim Smolens)
  15. Fantasy Impromptu (composed by Frédéric Chopin, arranged by Tim Smolens)
  16. Tempus Fugit (composed by Bud Powell)
  17. Rondo Capriccioso (composed by Camille Saint-Saens, arranged by Timb Harris)
  18. Mean Old World (composed by Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers)
  19. Hunger Strike (composed by John Whooley, Jason Schimmel, Tim Smolens, Timb Harris, and Dave Murray, arranged by Estradasphere)

Added: December 23rd 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: The End Records
Hits: 1718
Language: english

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Estradasphere: Palace of Mirrors Live (DVD)
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-12-23 12:52:02
My Score:

The six multi-instrumentalists in California's eclectic Estradasphere seem like decent dudes – guys you wouldn't mind hanging out with for the rest of your life. But unless you watch the 20-minute production documentary that serves as a bonus feature on Palace of Mirrors Live, you would get little real insight into these musicians.

Recorded at a gig in Estradasphere's hometown of Santa Cruz in support of the band's latest album, 2006's Palace of Mirrors, this concert film captures two complete sets (roughly 135 minutes of music) largely inspired by Mr. Bungle, King Crimson, The Mars Volta, Metallica and John Coltrane. "Film" is the key word here, as Estradasphere's cinematic music serves as the soundtrack to a surreal sci-fi movie that rolls during the performance and on DVD sometimes overtakes the entire screen. Palace of Mirrors is performed in its entirety with the band members mainly standing in the shadows of dramatic lighting, giant video screens above dwarfing their stage presence. In a way, that's a shame, because the band's technical proficiency deserves more of a spotlight. Timb Harris turns the violin into a lead instrument, while Kevin Kmetz shines on the tsugaru shamisen, a Japanese lute that sounds like a banjo.

When band members do interact with the seemingly mesmerized crowd, mostly during what's billed as the "Opening Set," they seem either aloof or goofy – sort of a like a wasted jam band for whom the audience serves simply as a means to an end. That's why the revealing and humorous documentary is so refreshing and entertaining. In fact, it's worth going back and rewatching the concert after viewing the doc, just to try to gain new insight into Estradasphere's live presence.




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